Dependency Appeal

How is Dependency Determined?

Students are classified as dependent or independent based on information submitted on the FAFSA. According to the U.S. Department of Education, most undergraduate students are considered dependent. Parents have the primary responsibility of providing for post-secondary education costs. Graduate students are automatically considered independent by the federal government for financial aid purposes, even if they are still claimed on their parent’s taxes.

When you submit the FAFSA, your answers to multiple questions on the application will determine your dependency status. If you are considered independent you report only your own income and assets and the income of your spouse. If you are considered a dependent student, you must report your parent’s income and assets along with your own. A parent must also sign the FAFSA.

The federal criteria for independent status is not based on the student physically residing with the parents or on the parents providing financial support. The philosophy behind the criteria is that parents should be the first resource to pay for their child’s college education–before all other taxpayers.

What is a Dependency Appeal? 

Financial aid administrators are allowed to review student situations individually, and under limited circumstances with sufficient cause, may determine that a student should be considered independent for financial aid purposes. Only extreme, documented cases, such as being unsafe or unhealthy for a student to be in contact with their parents to obtain information required on the FAFSA, will warrant a change in the student’s status. Your parents’ refusal to assist you with educational costs, your decision to live separately from your parents, or your tax filing status are not, by themselves, considered valid reasons for a dependency appeal approval.

If you think you have unusual circumstances for which you should be considered independent, the process to apply for a dependency appeal may be pursued. You are encouraged to contact our office prior to submitting the appeal.

How does the process work?

The Appeals Committee will do an initial review of the information that you submit within 2 weeks of receipt. A committee member may reach out to you (via myUMBC email) to request additional documentation to support your appeal or may need to contact your references; sometimes the committee may request that you come in for a personal interview. You will be notified of the appeal decision via myUMBC email.
Documents and information collected to support your appeal will remain confidential and are used to determine your eligibility for financial aid assistance. However; if the Committee finds that you intentionally made false statements or misrepresentations, your request will be canceled and may be referred to Judicial Services for further review. Additionally, if there are concerns about your well-being, appropriate UMBC personnel may be contacted.

What else do I need to know?

Completion of this form and submission of documents does not guarantee approval of a dependency appeal. Approval of an appeal does not guarantee receipt of additional aid. You are responsible for all outstanding bills with UMBC and should make arrangements to ensure that your bill is paid by the due date.


2023-2024 Dependency Appeal Request – Eform